Beatnuts : Take It Or Squeeze It

Still obsessed with beats, guns and girls, Beatnuts get more way out on new album...

Psycho Les and his partner Juju are possibly the most aptly named duo in hip-hop. As producers in their own right, who’ve cut tracks with a slew of artists, these makers of multicultural mayhem are obsessed with beats. And guns. And women of a certain attitude.

Essentially populist in approach, with stronger ears for melody than the artform normally demands, Beatnuts use their third longplayer to negotiate the areas between party tracks, sex tracks and boast/threat tracks. Collaborations with Greg Nice, DJ Tony Touch, and some soulful vocalists, vie with Psycho and Juju’s foul-mouthed rhyme turns, and, at the least expected moments, something close to a social conscience – masked by tough guy hardness – emerges and then disappears.

See, the Nuts have watched their neighbourhood and the wider America closely resemble a police state; have seen the flag burn abroad (cf ‘No Escapin’ This’), and decided to drop bits of wisdom on tracks, amongst the usual profanities. As the Latinate beats and ethereal, high-pitched, keyboard squiggles of ‘Who’s Comin’ With Da Shit Na’ suggest, care has also been taken to make songs flow in an effortless manner. And there’s truly nothing more infectious than the introductory opener ‘It’s Da Nuts’.

Queens is the centre of action, a Queens of seedy clubs full of self-proclaimed thugs, and cool bars, where Beatnuts imagine their anthemic tunes on endless play. ‘Hammer Time’ – a perfect example of their irrepresible sense of humour – glorifies the gun life. And Psycho and Juju aren’t above the current New York inner-city Ecstasy explosion, either, as the rude overhaul of the classic ‘Walk On By’, re-invented as ‘Hood Thang’, makes clear, right down to the jokey twist in the tale.

Beatnuts just get more way out with each release.

Dele Fadele